back to article We don't usually sugar-coat the news but... Alien sugars found in Earth-bound meteorites

Scientists have detected alien sugars in Earth-bound meteorites for the first time, providing further evidence that some of the ingredients needed to kick start life on our planet may have been delivered from elsewhere in space. The boffins – led by a team at Tohoku University, Japan – analysed powdered samples of two …

  1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Alien Sugars?

    Wasn't he on The Apprentice (UK)?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Alien Sugars?

      This would explain why he looks like a talking raisin!

      He's from the Planet of the Grapes!

    2. Blitheringeejit
      Coat

      Re: Alien Sugars?

      Yes he was - which explains why when a meteorite full of Alien Sugars hits the earth, we'll all get "fired"...

      /coat

    3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Alien Sugars?

      He was on the Channel Five knock-off called The Youth Training Scheme.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Sugar?

    Why thank you. Two lumps please.

  3. jake Silver badge
    Pint

    Sugar's a start

    Let me know when they find the other thing vital to life ... yeast.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Sugar's a start

      Yeast will show up on the next delivery. It's almost like those of another world are bombarding us with the things needed to start life.... maybe they think there's no one at home here on Earth?

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: Sugar's a start

        Alien beer would be interesting.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Sugar's a start

      Yeast are eukaryotes like us. A higher form of life than bacteria. Cells with a central nucleus and mitochondria for energy production and oxygen chemistry. The evolution of Eukaryotic life (bacteria are prokaryotes) was a blink in geological time. To get there the bacteria had to develop photosynthesis and become cyanobacteria, blue-green algae. Then the oxygen they produced had to oxidise the reduced iron in the rocks. There’s a rust belt recording the epoch, literally.

      Only once oxygen levels began to rise appreciably in the oceans did the drive for anaerobic cells to find some way of surviving which brought a large bacterium into engulfing a small oxygen capable bacteria and fail to digest it leading to a symbiosis at the basis of all animal, plant and fungal life.

      The plants, necessary to make foodstuffs for yeast to work on required a second symbiosis between a eukaryotic cells and cyanobacteria where even today all the photosynthesis happens in plants.

      Since barley and hops are both flowering plants you get well into the Triassic at least before you can make beer. But really it has to wait until the hunter gatherer humans selected larger ears of grass and let them ferment. Good for sourdough bread and beer both.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Sugar's a start

        Thanks, Muscleguy. We never would have known without your help.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best petri dish

    Yup, because when we have a water laden planet sized Petri dish, and an apparently rare occurrence of life in the galaxy, its really obvious that the ingredients had to evolve somewhere else first and hitch a ride to earth on an interstellar taxi.

    DNA had to sponteneously emerge somewhere in the galaxy.

    Occams razor says DNA spontaneously emerged here.

    1. Steve Button

      Re: Best petri dish

      "DNA had to sponteneously emerge somewhere"

      No, it didn't. You can start with much simpler RNA and DNA can evolve later once life has got started. Or it could be started by something even simpler perhaps, which no longer exists because it's died out completely, or it is from another planet.

      But we're all just guessing so far.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Best petri dish

        As this article shows. Some folk are pretty far advanced in their intelligent guessing.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Best petri dish

      "Occams razor says DNA spontaneously emerged here."

      Logic says that if it emerged[0] here, it probably also emerged in many other places. It also suggests that it (and it's building blocks) has probably been transferred from place to place by various events over the years. We will never know the actual details, but there is much to be learned from trying to understand them anyway.

      [0] Note: No "spontaneously". Crawl first, then walk, then run.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Best petri dish

        I imagine in a sufficiently large and ancient universe, that logic and probability would suggest ' if it can, it will exist sooner or later'.

        If the earliest life appeared on Earth some four billion years ago, when would the Kickstarters for that life have evolved elswhere?

        It seems equally as likely as not that life could develop spontaneously in different places, however, I am no biologist.

      2. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Best petri dish

        The logic in this is slightly flawed. Dunkin donuts exist on earth, but I doubt they exist elsewhere in the universe. Is dna fundamental thing? Or the crazy consequence of so many random factors it can't have happened elsewhere, like dunkin donuts.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: Best petri dish

          This. A million times this.

          There are no trees on the Moon. No "rivers" on Mars. Thus, not all places are exactly the same as here. Assuming an infinite universe.... assumes an infinite universe (and unicorns and all that).

          We might be common, we might be unique, and a TON of science is needed between the two to know which is which (and scarily, without extra data, we may never know, in a scientific means).

          1. herman Silver badge

            Re: Best petri dish

            There are wadis on Mars.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            There are no trees on the Moon, at the moment

            "Not all places are exactly the same", which is lucky or there would be no transfer of energy that allows for our kind of life

            Science is just another tool, it was handy for some of the problems we saw need fixing but the longer we survive the greater the chance that we will recognise the need for a better tool if we hope to continue to grow.

            Religion answers no questions and cannot abide change and that is why it can never be either a true reflection of reality or a path to growth, follow their rules and everyone already knows the outcome war, famine and death.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Best petri dish

          " Dunkin donuts exist on earth, but I doubt they exist elsewhere in the universe."

          It's probably not called "dunkin dobuts" ... but when you look at the chemistry involved, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that there is a dunkin-like high-fat, high-sugar confectionery-esque item that can be traded for in one way or another elsewhere in the universe,

          Think about it. How do you make a doughnut? Start with the grain that gets milled into flour. How likely is it that elsewhere in the Universe there are plants that produce seeds with a carbohydrate energy storage mechanism? How likely is it that intelligent life somewhere other than here has figured out how to mill it? Etc.

          I'd go as far as to say that given intelligent life and time, something like dunkin donuts is inevitable.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Best petri dish

      "Occams razor says DNA spontaneously emerged here."

      Occam's Chainsaw disagrees...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Best petri dish

        Occam's Duvet suggests that things will become clearer after a nice long nap...

        1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

          Re: Best petri dish

          Inside Occam's Box, Schrödinger's Cat does and does not agree.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Best petri dish

            Schrödinger's Cat has both vomited and shat on Occam's Duvet. You only find out which will happen in your universe once you open the bedroom door.

            1. hplasm Silver badge
              Gimp

              Re: Best petri dish

              Occam's Litter Tray.

              The worst of both states worlds.

              Do not go there.

              ---> PPE hat

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
                Devil

                Re: Best petri dish

                PPE hat. Hat? Hat?

                A hat's not going to cut it! You need a gas mask at least, possibly with full body covering rubber NBC suit. Or a remote controlled decontamination robot. Or just take off, and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

    4. Grikath

      Re: Best petri dish

      Except for the simple fact that DNA in and of itself is not the basis for life.

      RNA is what makes us all tick over like clockwork. DNA is just for storage. For the IT minded: the HDD my be a vital part of a computer, but it is not what makes the computer work. The actual legwork is done by the processor and other electronics. It's a thing that's often forgotten even by molecular biologists, even though they should know better...

      The chemistry of making RNA and its components, and the basic amino acids is well understood nowadays, and it's been pretty much conclusively proven that you actually don't need all that much to make it appear spontaneously in an environment like early Earth ( poisonous hellhole to us nowadays..) if you give it a couple million years. It's actually more or less inevitable..

      Now if it will organise into what we call "life" , and how often is the question. We may see evidence in our lifetime if the space agencies get a bit of a move on and get probes to the various Suspects in our solar system.

      But the fact is that the chemistry of the "precursors of life" is so basic that it happens literally everywhere it gets a chance, even in space. Which, in my eyes at least, is a Bloody Big Hint we aren't all as special and unique as we like to think.

  5. Blofeld's Cat
    Coat

    Ah ...

    I can see one of my food-obsessed friends quoting this as more evidence that sugar is bad for you.

    "I mean look what it did to the dinosaurs".

  6. Steve Button

    Just imagine...

    ... what would happen if a massive asteroid destroyed the earth and all life on it. Wouldn't we be left with some DNA and RNA amongst a bunch of much smaller asteroids, which could then go on to potentially seed life on other planets, billions of years in the future.

    So, the real question in my mind is not "How did life start on earth", but "Does this point to life having existed somewhere else in this galaxy?" (albeit much simpler life, if they only had RNA and sugars, and no DNA). Or do we think that these things we're just spontaneously created by some chemical reaction? What's more likely?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      A massive asteroid will be a serious blow to a major part of the ecosystem, for sure, but some forms of life will endure. The dinosaurs prove that the asteroid apocalypse doesn't necessarily kill everything.

      Though I'll be quite happy for Humanity to test that theory in a few hundred years or so at the very least. I prefer not being there to find out how it goes down the next time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The dinosaurs prove that the asteroid apocalypse doesn't necessarily kill everything."

        Funny, I thought *we* were the proof of that...

        1. jake Silver badge

          We ARE proof of that. But so are the dinosaurs chickens.

  7. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    We had water and sugar delivered by inter-galactic Deliveroo, now where's the tea-bags. Else it's not life, just an existence.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    B.b.b.b.but ...

    ... how does this fit in with the widely held view of a 10,000 year old, flat Earth create by an almighty God?!?

    1. aks Bronze badge

      Re: B.b.b.b.but ...

      Would you Adam and Eve it?!

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: B.b.b.b.but ...

        The Earth started off flat, then became round, due to inflation after the Big Bang.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: B.b.b.b.but ...

          The Earth started off flat, then became round, due to inflation after the Big Bang.

          Blame the obesogenic environment, all those incoming sugars.

          1. herman Silver badge

            Re: B.b.b.b.but ...

            More likely the earth was flat, then warped and became round and inflated, when the big turtle farted.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: B.b.b.b.but ...

      It doesn't.

      ::shrugs::

    3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: B.b.b.b.but ...

      Downvoted for pointlessness.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: B.b.b.b.but ...

        Downvoted for douchiness.

  9. AndyK

    Sloppy subtitles

    Come on el reg.. you like being pendantic at times so lets correct the subtitle .. "More evidence that building blocks for life on our home world came from outer space" the evidence doesn't show that at all it shows that "More evidence that building blocks for life on our home world can be created through inorganic processes anywhere in the universe" not so snappy, but much more scientifically correct

    Regards

    Andy

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sloppy subtitles

      * pedantic

      See also: self-demonstrating comment.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "carbon-13, a heavier isotope of carbon-12"

    Oops. It's a heavier isotope of carbon. Heavier than carbon-12. But it isn't an isotope of carbon 12.

  11. spold Silver badge

    Not your typical meteorite

    ....it's a Mars bar

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Not your typical meteorite

      ... a Venusian speak-easy!

  12. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Rare carbon

    ... turns out to be 1.1% of carbon distribution on Earth. So, unless it was found in a statistically odd proportion of the carbon in the sample, the 'rarity' of the element is irrelevant ... as it isn't really.

  13. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

    Which kind of ribose?

    Did they find only D-ribose (the kind found in Earth biology, or a 50/50 mix of L-ribose and D-ribose? Most exciting would be if they found only L-ribose as that would suggest alien life.

    1. Screwed

      Re: Which kind of ribose?

      But just what would all D-ribose imply?

      Alien aliens who are based on opposite stereoisomers?

  14. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Encrypted DNA.

    Electromagnetic attraction and a chemical signature. #primecurvature

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